Saturday, March 30, 2013

It's warming up.......

Spring has been springing here in Canmore, we've been soaking in the longer days with sunshine until 7.30pm and it's been warm and lovely! It also happens to be spring break so without the usual rush to and from school we've been able to spend long afternoons at the park and walks with Sully. Yesterday evening the kids played out on their bikes without their jackets! Woooo! And today we went for a walk and Seb wore shorts! Double wooo! Some of the trees even have the first hint of new buds. I got so enthused with all this springyness that we planted some seeds inside a few days ago and our fist little seedlings have sprouted.  I got two jars of sprouts going and planted a mini succulent garden for our coffee table. Isn't it funny how the turning of seasons can stoke a little fire in your belly and bring on a wave of productivity? I even went so far as to deep clean inside my fridge today! 
To top it all off Neil's finally relocated to a new job nearer to home and is working regular hours for the first time in his life! No more nights, yipeeee! 

I hope you all are enjoying Spring as much as me! 
Here's to a sunny and happy Easter!

Noisy neighbours.....

Sorry about the photo, it was taken through our living room window in a bit of a hurry so it's not the best but I was happy to finally get a picture of one of our little neighbours. There seems to be a lot of squirrels living about these parts and even though they're perhaps not the most exciting species of wildlife around here, I'm quite fascinated by them. They are bold little things and make a hell of a noise if you get too close to their tree! Bel and I enjoy a bit of squirrel aggravating in the morning :) 
If I'm not careful our bird feeder might bring in a slightly bigger photography subject .........yes, the bears are waking up!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Let the fermentation commence!

Have you ever tasted Kombucha? Oh it's yummy! It's a kind of fermented tea that is thought to have originated in China. You can buy it pre-bottled in health food stores and cafe's of the healthier variety like this or like this.  From my very first sip I was totally hooked! It tasted fizzy and tart and delicious! My best description would be a slightly vinegary, effervescent apple cider. Sadly as frequently seems to be the case in those pesky health food stores, it's a bit pricey. Anyway the more I read about this magic elixir the more I wanted it. As with many other fermented foods, Kombucha is super good for you! It's full of probiotics, it helps alkalize the body by balancing internal pH, it detoxifies the liver, alleviates constipation, relieves headaches and migraines, it's high in polyphenols and antioxidants, it lowers glucose levels, helps clear up candida and yeast infections and is even reported to reduce grey hair! Wonder drink no joke!  Anyway, it turns out this wonder drink is dead easy and totally inexpensive to make yourself. I began to research! The key to brewing your own kombucha is getting yourself a mother. I already have a mother but what it turns out I needed was this weird blobby, lump of a thing otherwise known as a mushroom or scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). I'm going to use the term scoby because it's not a mushroom in the real fungi sense and it's not my mother. Apparently you can grow your own scoby but it's easier to start with a fully grown one. Every batch of Kombucha you brew creates a baby scoby so theoretically I just needed to find someone willing to give me their baby. Thank you Kijiji! ( For those of you not from this neck of the woods, Kijiji is the most popular online classified ad source in Canada.) I have bought a camp stove, bar stools, a 100 year old sewing machine and now a simple form of life in a jar all from kijiji. What would I have done without it! 
So after a couple of emails and a call from "my kombucha man in Calgary" we arranged a pick up time.  Neil did the deal for me on his way home from work yesterday and arrived home with a beautiful blob in a jar and a faded photocopied recipe for Kombucha. I named the blob Cyril, had a sip of the juice surrounding him and did a little happy dance! I was ready to brew! Apparently Cyril descends from a long line of Kombuchas, the original culture used to make him is 25 years old! My kombucha man in Calgary has been brewing for a long time. He drinks his Kombucha every day and even takes his scoby on holiday with him in a little cool box! 
The recipe is simple, you brew a large pot of sweet tea, there are conflicting ideas about what kind of tea to use but most recommend caffeinated black tea. The recipe I used called for two black tea bags and two green tea bags, sugar and cranberry juice. I decided to follow these instructions from my kombucha man but might vary things up with later batches if all goes well. Once the tea is cooled you pour it into your large sterilized container along with your scoby, a cup of kombucha (there was some in the jar with Cyril) and top it up with water. Cover with cheese cloth and store in dark place with a constant cool temperature for two weeks. The scoby will feed off the sugars and as if by magic, fermentation will commence! Thats about where I've got to. 
Now.....we wait. 

Monday, March 11, 2013


If you follow my instagram you'll know we were back in Tofino for a visit. It was prompted by some issues we needed to deal with at Breakers but well overdue in my book anyway. I just needed to go there. As soon as we were off the ferry I felt like we were home. I can't really describe the feeling, I just feel totally at ease when I'm on that Island, it's just where I'm meant to be :) We were there for 5 days and although there was some serious business to deal with we also had some time to catch up with friends, walk on the beach and just take in all the feelings of being there. It was so nice to be back in town, in Tofino it's not uncommon for people to get out of town for a few months at a time and everybody, even the lady in the Co Op welcomed us back so warmly! It seems we were missed! We stayed at Ocean Village, just down the road from our old house. The day we ventured into the pool turned out to be local swim day and as the people trickled in through the doors we realized we knew everyone! It turned into quite the catch up session! 
I took my real camera out of it's bag only once and even then I only took a few shots. I just didn't feel the need to be fiddling around trying to get good pictures, all I wanted was to take deep breaths of ocean filled air and watch my kids (and my dog) loving every minute of their beach time. Sully was over the moon to be back! You could totally tell he was smiling, I've never seen him look as happy to be anywhere! I instagrammed a lot and the photo above is one from my phone that just makes me smile. I remember in that moment just thinking how this scene and everything in it was perfect! 
We checked in on our stuff in the storage unit and discovered a bit of mould (not a big surprise in Tofino) and Neil ended up spending a morning moving furniture by boat over to Strawberry Island. Our sofa is now lucky enough to be living on a float home. Is it weird to be jealous of a sofa?
Needless to say when the time came to leave I felt a lump in my throat and a horrible resurgence of all the feelings from last year. I just want us to be there and it really sucks that right now we can't be. The few days after we got back I felt really down in the dumps and it's only just the last couple of days that I'm starting to pull myself out of that slump again.  I can't dwell on what I had or what other people are having, I just have to get on with things, be happy with all the wonderful things I do have and hope that one day things might all just fall into place.

Backtracking...Bel's Birthday and some simple fun

Sorry for the lack of blogging lately, I've been finding it hard to spare five minutes hence I'm only just getting around to posting photos from Bel's birthday last month. It already feels like so much has happened since then! We were packing up for our little trip to Tofino and so we kept things pretty simple. Bel wasn't too bothered seeing as we'd been to two kids parties in less than two weeks running up to her birthday. She opened all her many pressies first thing and then we spent the rest of the morning chatting to our peeps back in England and Malta, everyone got to see all her new dollies close up and we had lots of virtual kissing and monitor hugs! Its these times that I find hardest to be so far away :(  Thank you to everyone for her lovely presents! She's one lucky girly! 
After the morning's skype marathon we headed into town with the idea of feeding the ducks. There's a really sweet little creek that runs right through the centre of town and it's always full of ducks, the lane down to the edge of the creek is even named Mallard Alley :) We did a little research before leaving to find out what are the best foods to feed to ducks, apparently bread is not too good for their ducky tummies. On the advise of google we set off armed with a bag of peas and cut up grapes which indeed seemed to do the trick, the ducks totally swarmed us! The kids had a great time and we stayed until our pea/grape stash was all gone and our hands were numb. Then we set off in search of a hot chocolate before heading home for birthday cupcakes. 

Sunday, March 03, 2013

No longer befuzzled

Ok so I think I have figured out the issues I was having with Picasa web and my photos but somehow I seem to have deleted my last post in the process. I don't mind because it didn't say anything of importance (do they ever?) but I did quite like seeing the giant photo of the cookies I baked so here it is again......

The recipe is from smitten kitchen and can be found here. I added some almonds to mine and they were   totally yummy.